Monday, February 2, 2015

Change v Transformation

Change: things are different, or will be. Often a matter of process and function
Transformation: Change + values or philosophy that are changed as well

Ron Ashkenas tells us in an essay that we still don't get it, some 10 years after notable John Kotter wrote his seminal article "Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail." Some say 30% or more fail. Of course, this begs the question: what is failure, or perhaps harder: what is success?

Ashkenas says:
"Unlike change management, it [transformation] doesn’t focus on a few discrete, well-defined shifts, but rather on a portfolio of initiatives, which are interdependent or intersecting.

More importantly, the overall goal of transformation is not just to execute a defined change — but to reinvent the organization and discover a new or revised business model based on a vision for the future.

It’s much more unpredictable, iterative, and experimental. It entails much higher risk. And even if successful change management leads to the execution of certain initiatives within the transformation portfolio, the overall transformation could still fail."
Of course transformation is unpredictable! Who can say where a change in beliefs and values is going to lead? Who can say if such is really a good thing.

We can put parameters around objective change management stuff, but it's hard to measure, much less predict, non-objective phenomenon. About the best you can do is look at the A/B situation: A: the way it was; B: the way it is now.

A/B testing is a big thing in many projects these days. How else to actually evaluate things? So, is it change or is it transformation? Usually the former shows itself right away; the latter may be generational (See: transformative politics)... You'll just have to wait and see; or better yet, get promoted and have someone else wait and see.

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